Naturally, I was both nervous and excited to attend my bridal makeup consultation. My wedding was in a few days, and this was the first time I would met the woman scheduled to prepare my face for my husband, photographer, and guests. I arrived at the parking lot, flying, in an effort to get there on time. I get to the correct suite, and she says “I’ll be right with you.” I instantly feel at ease. And by the end of the visit, I could not have been more pleased with the outcome.
Little did I know I would not only receive a full face of flawless makeup, but also, I would leave carrying a satchel full of inspirational gems Da’Shanae would drop right in my lap as she used soft brushes to match my tone, smoke my eyes, and adorn my lips. I left her studio feeling confident I made the right decision by choosing Da’Shanae’s services for my big day. I also left the chair feeling inspired to continue the pursuit of my own dreams just like she did. You know I live for inspirational black women. With that said, in this post, I am going to share Da’Shanae X’s journey to becoming a successful Makeup Artist based in Charlotte, North Carolina, owner of Let My People Free brand, as well as the many stones of wisdom she shared during my bridal consultation.
but first, let’s keep in touch
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Picture this. Jagged Edge, Kelly Rowland and Nelly’s, Dilemma, followed by Nivea’s Complicated playing in the background. I was in the chair thinking, “Dang, I forgot about that song.” As soon as I left I had to add Nivea to my playlist, but I digress. Still, picture it. Soft and loving R&B music escorted me to the chair where she would apply the makeup. Meanwhile the walls echo messages in wall decor that read, “Wake up with purpose”, “Pray..Be intentional,””Let go & Let God”, and “he wouldn’t put you through it if he couldn’t get you through it.” When I walked into Da’Shanae’s studio, I felt a fresh vibe. Something shifted in my spirit. I went from anxious and nervous to feeling tranquil and confident.
Moving along, our conversation began with an exchanged of common pleasantries: “how do you feel about the wedding,””where are you from,” and other questions like the sort. Later, I started looking around the room and gathering memories of her of her IG account, “Letmypeoplefree“. I remembered she had recently celebrated moving into the studio. Recalling that fact made me wonder, how did this all begin? The vibe. The success. The dream realized. And so in true Being Classic Britney fashion, I started asking the questions I was curious to know. Da’Shanae, being the graceful woman she is, answered.
who is Da’Shanae X?
Ultimately, Da’ Shanae is a powerhouse who owns “Let My People Free” the brand for her makeup artist business. She is also a virtuous woman and member of the Nation of Islam who didn’t give up on her dreams, stayed committed to growth, and mastered good business practices. I’m so excited to share her story, I just jumped into the highlight before offering her background.
Da’Shanae was raised in Allentown, Pennsylvania. There she developed a mindset that led her to “defend herself first, and think about it later.” In Allentown, she learned to “enjoy fighting”, but when new dreams were in reach, she left her old habits, and secured acceptance to a small D3 private college.
During her stint in college, Da’Shanae became the captain of her women’s basketball team. Soaring, she was on her way to pursuing her first dream of becoming a professional basketball player. All was well, until that old mindset made a debut on campus. Conflict led her into a fight which resulted in permanent suspension from college. Initially, she tried to get into other colleges, but when telling the story of her mistake got repetitive and ineffective, she would soon spring forward toward a new dream of becoming a professional Makeup Artist.
Da’Shanae later became a mother to a beautiful and lively son who serves as inspiration for everything she does. On the contrary, while God blessed her with the birth of her son, she let go of her dream of becoming a professional basketball player. For a while, she was uncertain about what the future would hold until the idea of doing makeup professionally was planted into her heart.
In 2016, she was introduced to the Nation of Islam. Da’Shanae shares, “it was one of the teachings of of The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad: “Do For Self or Suffer the Consequences that encouraged me so start my own business.” Later in 2016, she began working towards her dreams in makeup. It was around this time she would officially stop applying to school and working odd jobs to begin her journey as a makeup artist.
Da’Shanae was never afraid of hard work and discipline. In fact, she learned how to do makeup by practicing on her own face. “I would do makeup on myself two to three times a day.” “Initially, I was going to try to do YouTube,” she says. In her first year of pursuing this new idea she won the loyalty of four clients. Four clients are obviously not enough to maintain her livelihood, so she worked part time and continued to pursue her dream. She spent her first year in makeup experiencing trial and error, networking, doing faces for free, and collaborating with photographers until she later received recognition for the work she put in sharpening her skills.
Currently, we see the fruit of her labor. Da’ Shanae might have begun with four clients and many unpaid opportunities. Today, not only is she able to work and support herself and her son as a full time professional makeup artist, but she is also able to maintain her own studio with the client load she has earned over the years. She has also grown her instagram account to over 10,000 followers and counting. Da’Shanae is thriving in her field, but God can do exceedingly and abundantly more. And she is open to work and receive it.
For this installment of “Herstory”, I had the chance to speak with Da’Shanae twice. The first time we spoke was during my bridal makeup consultation. The second time we spoke was over the phone. I just had to schedule an interview to hear more about her story. Below, we discuss her journey as a makeup artist, how she exercised her faith in the process, as well as many helpful business tips. Keep reading, but while you’re at it, I advise you to grab a bag or something to collect the jewels she shares–one dreamer to another.
Beingclassicbritney: How did you learn to do makeup?
Da’Shanae: When I first started, I would do my makeup like two or three times a day. I was really consistent and focused. It’s something I lack now. I got a little bit comfortable, but I also just started relying more on God. I know I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing overall. But if I want to surpass where I am now, I know I have to go back to being consistent with learning and improving my craft.
The first thing I want to review from our conversation during the consultation is the timeline of your climb. Can you take me through the timeline again?
So pretty much I started makeup in 2016. I started practicing because I was pregnant with my son, and I didn’t want to work a job. And at the time I was with his father, and he told me I didn’t have to work a job. So, I allowed myself to learn and practice because originally I wanted to start a Youtube channel. Then, his father gave me the idea to start practicing on people, so I could make money that way. I was like okay, I never thought of that. That idea led me to practicing makeup twice, sometimes three times a day, so I could have pictures to post and promote myself.
Throughout the first year from 2016-2017, I only had about four clients, and I was discouraged. I then started going to events, networking with people, and collaborating with photographers. I was just doing anything I could think of to get myself noticed and exposed. Later in 2017, I started getting some recognition from people. They were finding me from using hashtags like #charlottemakeupartists and things like that.
My second year, I would say my business grew, but I was definitely still working a job. I was not as confident as I should have been as far as where this business could really take me. I was just looking at the results and seeing I wasn’t where I wanted to be. So, I decided I’d have to work a job and figure it out.
In my third year, business definitely picked up, but I was still going back and forth to a job and home. At the time I was living with my aunt, so I didn’t really have any bills to pay besides my cell phone.
I will say my fourth year, which was last year January 2020 is when I was so tired of going back and forth from North Carolina, my home, to South Carolina, the job. I was tired of the job. It was a temporary job, but you could apply to become permanent. There wasn’t even a guarantee that I could keep this job when the trial period was over. We really didn’t do anything because we were verifying benefits, and you know that enrollment period is really when we’re active. I was literally driving to work to sit there. Then one day I just said, “there are people who just do makeup and they are making it. My business was picking up, I’ll take a leap of faith, and not come back.” I left the job, then corona hit.
I will say after quarantine lifted and people were allowed to go places and salons were able to open back up, my business picked up tremendously. During that time, I went from having 20 clients a month to 60 or 70. I was just like WOW. My one-on-one appointments increased. People wanted to learn how to do their own makeup.
It was a rewarding feeling to see that this moment was why I had to go through all of the hard work. It was to prepare me for what was coming which was an influx of clients. At the time I started, when I desired a lot of clients, I probably wasn’t ready for it. I wasn’t ready for the work, or the time I had to commit. I’m much better than I was before. I was never horrible, but of course my talent grew. When I have clients that came to me in 2017, I apologize to them like, “ma’am I’m sorry. I did you wrong.” lol
You also talked a lot about having mentors. While you didn’t have a formal long term mentor, you did have people who gave you great advice along the way. At what point in the process did you meet those people and how did they help you?
So in the very beginning when I was just seeing that there were certain events happening, depending on who was on the panel list, I would reach out to them in any kind of way. I would DM, or email to see if I could do their makeup. One of the first people I would say I connected with was Mizhani. She booked an appointment with me. She found me using a hashtag. Now this is someone who has over 740,000 followers on instagram, so I’m thinking “now how did she find little ole me.”
She reached out to me, and I did her makeup in my aunt’ dining room. The next day she called me and said, “I want you to be my personal makeup artist, but will you be able to travel to me?” Of course I said yes, even though I didn’t have a car. My aunt would let me drive her car, or Mizhani would send me a Uber.
I remember one day going to her house, and Mizhani asked, “So how much money a day do you want to make?” I was like, “300 dollars.” She was like, “that’s not really any money.” But I didn’t know. She told me I had to get faster, or I won’t be able to make as much. During this season, it was taking me one hour to two hours to do makeup. Later, she started timing me, so I could improve and get faster. Now that I am quicker, I can take more clients.
Then I reached out to Monique Idlett. She came to Charlotte back in 2017, maybe 2018, and I reached out to her. She let me do her makeup, and she did pay. I travelled to her, and we connected because she is from New Jersey and I’m from Pennsylvania, so we had a mutual northerner connection. She started asking me, what my business goals were, about my business plans, and my brand. At the time, I was just telling her anything because I didn’t really know. Those questions made me realize I really needed to start thinking about a serious plan. I didn’t even realize I had to think about any of it, but she planted the seeds about having a business plan and a goal.
Another topic we talked about during the consultation that stood out to me was networking. You talked about going to events and reaching out to panelists which is really bold and admirable. What steps did you take when networking? And, what did you say?
I really got into networking when I met this girl named Julia. She really was the person who helped me step out of my comfort zone. She was hosting women empowerment events, and I connected with her. I would have a vendor table. I wasn’t selling products, but I would put my makeup and business cards on the table to let women know I was a makeup artist. Julia was able to introduce me to Dutchess, from Black Ink Crew, Charity, a celebrity stylist, Braid Barbie, who is a braider here in Charlotte, and a lot of other people that I was able to network with after the event.Ultimately, I was able to connect to people who later connected me to others.
I knew I would have to come out of my shell. Once I got to the events, I knew I would have to make connections. I just said, this is what has to be done because I was now in the business that requires me to talk to people, so I did what had to be done.
I say once you are in the moment, you allow yourself to go with the flow. You want to remember in the back of your mind to always be personable and always compliment people. Don’t be fake, but if you truly see something nice on someone, compliment them. That’s going to grab their attention because it shows you pay attention to detail. I would always try to make sure I said something nice to the person I was talking to. And really, I let the conversation flow. After a while you feel like you’re repeating yourself all the time because you are asking the same questions. Questions like: “So where are you from?” and “What brought you here?” Still, you want to ask questions that would lead to an open dialogue.
What role did your faith play in the process of building your business?
In 2016, I was introduced to the Nation of Islam. I chose to convert in 2018, however in my beginning stages of studying The Teachings of The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, one thing I kept in the back of mind was his blueprint: “Do For Self or Suffer the Consequences”. Applying that blueprint in real time, is why I am where I am today with my business. My foundation has always been and will always be God.
One thing that I bolded when we were talking at the consultation was that you chose to believe in your makeup dream”. When was that? Can you explain how you came to believe in your makeup dream?
I want to say I always truly believed, but when it really hit me, it was in 2019. At that time I started making connections with people who were successful in their own businesses. I knew that’s what I wanted to do, and I knew the job I was at was not where I wanted to be. At the same time I needed money because I was living with my aunt, and that was weighing on me. I was grateful, but I wanted to be able to afford my own place for me and my child because I didn’t want to raise him in my aunt’s house.
In 2019, I was around so many successful people. It made it easier to believe in my own business. It’s one thing to see successful people on social media. I felt like I had the keys when I was around them. It made me want to go harder. I made the decision to go hard towards my dreams. I started to go hard because I started to actually believe it could happen, and God provided the rest.
Can you talk to me again about avoiding social media traps? At what point in your timeline did you realize social media was distracting you and blocking your blessings?
In 2018 through 2019, I realized I was losing my “why” and started focusing on being seen on social media instead of being impactful. There were people that I was following and was able to watch them grow from 1000s of followers to 100,000s of 1000s of followers. I started to want that.
Then, I realized I was being consumed by the idea of being seen instead of being impactful. So I did the only thing I knew to do which was stop looking at those people. I knew I had to be on Instagram to promote my business. So, I just unfollowed those people, so they weren’t the first thing I saw on my timeline. It wasn’t until after I took that first break and started taking the pressure off my social media that my account started to grow. When you do things for the right reasons, it just works out better.
Recently, I became overwhelmed with working so much and being a full time single mom. Everything started to be a lot, so I took a break from social media to restore my peace, so I don’t feel like I’m confined to it. Although it helps my business, I don’t want to become a slave to it. We tend to overwork ourselves, once we start getting the success we ask for, so I had to take a break. I’m glad I work for myself. I’m glad I am my own boss, but it was taking away time from my son.
I think it’s very necessary to take breaks from social media to clear our mental space. It can be a lot especially when you don’t have a team of people and it’s just you. Don’t worry or get discouraged by thinking that because you aren’t on social media you won’t make money. As long as you believe and take care of yourself as well, God will provide. How are you going to be able to work your best, if you aren’t feeling your best?
When in your timeline did you get your own studio? What did that symbolize for you?
I got the keys to my studio in February 2021. July 2021, will be my fifth year of doing make up. Getting my keys symbolized to me God answers your prayers when you are patient. I wanted a studio from the beginning. I didn’t want to work out of my aunt’s home. In 2019, up until I got this suite I was working with Cristina from Travelling Hands.
I learned how to run a suite. You have to clean everyday and make sure everything is up to date. I realized then that having a studio wasn’t something I was ready for when I started doing makeup. Plus, it’s not cheap. I had to be patient until it was my time to have a suite. Ultimately, I had to look at everything like, you are not ready. I allowed myself to be patient. No matter how bad I wanted it, I never questioned God like, “why don’t I have my own suite.” I knew it would come when I was ready.
How do you see your business growing?
I see it growing even further than what my mind is imagining. I definitely see myself getting booked to do makeup on television shows and other events that won’t require me to work as long and as often as I do now which is Sunday to Sunday. I’m not sure if I’ll be selling cosmetics, but I see myself offering some type of product to my clients. I see myself being able to help women which is ultimately what I want to do with my business because I am more than just a makeup artist. My goal is to impact lives and share my experiences. I want to hopefully stop someone from going through something I went through.
What advice would you give to a young woman who is pursuing her dream life?
I would tell her to stay confident, continue growing and learning throughout the process. I would tell her success comes with failure. Success comes with no’s. Success comes with a lot of sad times, trial and error, and uncertainty, but as long as you stay focused on why you want to pursue that goal, you’ll always win in the end. You’ll alway reach a new level of growth as long as you stay focused on your “why”. I would also tell her to make sure she executes, has a plan, and stays disciplined. Your discipline and consistency will take you further than you can ever imagine.
What would you like readers to know about “Let My People Free”?
Let My People Free is rooted by this Idea: accepting your own and being yourself. We don’t co-sign to what society says is beautiful. We don’t co sign what society says we are as black women. Let My People Free is self explanatory. Let. My. People. Free! Though makeup, our goal is to unite black women from every walk of life to see we are one and together. We are strong and unstoppable!
what’s happening now?
You can find Da’Shanae growing as a makeup artist and as an entrepreneur by finding ways to exceed her own personal expectations. When she is not working on her craft, you’ll catch her spending quality time with her son and working on growing as a virtuous woman. At either moment, you will feel her feminine and serine energy.
find Da’Shanae on IG.
book Da’Shanae here.
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